JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – With a brief taste of summer followed by winter-like weather, people are anxious to hit the trails; park officials kindly ask you to wait. On Wednesday, many trails were still open around Jefferson County but with cold, wet weather expected to continue, closures could happen.
“We know how much you love these trails but you’ve got to respect that sometimes they need a rest. They’re fragile,” said Mary Ann Bonnell, a Park Ranger with Jefferson County. “We’re trying to walk that line and giving people the opportunity to be here if they want to be here and tow the line, stay on the trail.”
If it’s muddy, don’t walk around.
“That causes damage to the side of the trail. The plants can get trampled, you can also have erosion.”
With more and more people moving to Colorado and using the trail systems, Bonnell says more trails have visible long-term damage.
“When I started five years ago, we weren’t doing mud closures like we are now.”
Now, it’s become necessary. In the spring, Bonnell says rangers handed out 19 citations to people for ignoring trail closures and says that number has increased since.
She says it’s not an issue of poorly marked closure signs. In early May, Bonnell tweeted out a photo of a man jumping a clearly marked closed fence at APEX Park.
“It’s a natural resource closure, and we take that very seriously. We’re trying to protect the trails that people love and so we want to make sure those tickets are heard loud and clear.”
The fine is $150, and Bonnell says she will happily hand out tickets. They tried education, but now resort to closures and fines.
“If you go to North Table Mountain, we have single track that started out as 30-34 inch wide and it turned into 11 feet wide with braiding, I mean this is how bad it can get when people choose to not stay on the trail.”
Jefferson County provides text alerts to anyone who wants to sign up to find out about trail closures.